The Fight or Flight Response

Is your family important to you? If something were to happen that put the lives of your loved ones in danger, how would you react? It’s not until something really happens that you realize just how important your family is to you and just what you would do to keep them safe.

I swear to you, this is all true.

Sunday night, I slept poorly. It was easily the worst night of sleep I’d had in months. I lay in bed, tired but wide awake, as if there were an energy in the air keeping me awake. I’ve had nights like that before, where my mind was furiously working through a problem that it just couldn’t let go of. That wasn’t the case two nights ago. I simply could not drift off to sleep, and I didn’t know why. I dozed in and out a few times, and finally went downstairs around two in the morning. My head had begun to ache and throb, so I went down for some little white pills and some water. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary, aside from the fact that I should have been cycling into a REM sleep cycle. The house was silent.

After swallowing my two pills, I made my way through the dark house and up the stairs, taking them two at a time. Back in the bedroom, and under the covers, I settled in and hoped the sandman would visit.

And I lay there, eyes closed but still wide awake. Tired but alert. Again, I was hit with the feeling that there was something in the air, keeping me awake. Soon, I finally began drifting  to sleep. Slowly. Just as I reached that in-between state, the state where we sometimes jerk ourselves awake with a subconscious body spasm, something terrifying happened. I heard somebody in our house. Specifically, I heard a door being shut. A door in my house. The one place where I have an expectation of safety for myself and for my family.

There was no thought. No wondering what I should do, or if I really heard what I know I did. The only thing that ran through my head was “my family.” The next few moments are burned into my memory as a strobe-effect; simply a series of images. The ceiling fan, as my eyes fly open. The bed sheets, in mid-flight, as I rip them away from me. My feet hitting the floor and me pushing off the bed. Delilah taking post at my heel. My hand closing on the door frame. In just one more moment, I will be down the stairs in two jumps, praying that I hit the light switch with my first attempt. Then, I don’t know, but I will protect my family.

In the instant before I pulled myself into the doorway, I remembered something crucial. Earlier this day, my little tyrant of a son learned how to open his own door.

I stepped around the corner to see him standing before me. Innocent. Relief – and fresh anger – swept over me. In the fog of near-sleep, Tyler’s newly acquired skill had been forgotten. Also forgotten was the fact that this was the third or fourth time tonight that he had gotten up. The two main differences were that he was much quieter before, and that Sarah got up those times to put him back to bed. On this particular instance, he opened the door and (I think) accidentally slammed it behind him.

In an angry whisper, I told him, “Get your butt back into bed, right now!” In my head, I added, Jesus Christ, boy, I almost killed you.

“Mommy,” he cried.

“Mommy is making her night nights. You get into your bed, now Tyler!”

As I tucked him in, and my heart slowed back into its normal rhythm, I kissed Tyler’s cheek. “It’s time to sleep, Tyler. You stay in this bed, okay?”

Tyler whispered, “yeah.”

“You do not get out of this bed again, and you do not open your door again, got it?”

Still in a whisper, “yeah.”

“I love you, buddy.”

“luh-loo.”

I pulled his door shut, and tied a shirt sleeve around the knob, hoping to make it more difficult for Tyler to turn, should he disobey my orders. He didn’t, and he slept through the rest of the night, presumably in his bed.

Today, Sarah reversed the door knob so that we can lock him into his room. And, today, Tyler took an unheard-of three and a half hour nap.

We’re still smarter than you Tyler.

A Grounding Conversation

Baby picture of Tyler

“I fully believe that he is destined for great things.” – Dr. Michelle, about Tyler.

Sarah had an appointment with her lady-doctor last week. It had something to do with lady things. I don’t know what it was because I promptly jammed my fingers into my ears and shouted “Lalalalalalala, I can’t hear you,” when Sarah told me about the appointment. It has something to do with an annual checkup. I don’t know, because women and their “business” confuses me. Unbeknownst to me, I ended up having a short work day on the day of the appointment. When I called, Sarah said that her and Tyler were having a picnic lunch outside the doctor’s office before heading in. Since I was only a couple miles away, I decided to come by and surprise them.

And that is how it came to be that I went to the appointment with Sarah.

Her doctor also happens to be our nurse midwife. She was with us during our 50+ hours of labor. She guarded the door from the nurses so that Sarah and I could get some rest during the marathon of labor that Tyler put us through. She really was our advocate during the whole process. And she would have murdered Sarah if Tyler wasn’t with her at the appointment on this day. That ruled out me taking Tyler home, so my being there to occupy Tyler during the appointment was the most practical option.

Okay, now that we’ve got that out of the way…

In my eyes, Tyler’s birth was a scary, tiring, and draining experience. I say “scary” only because I’ve never been a dad before. I’m sure all (or most) men can relate. All said,it was a fairly positive experience that left us with a large, healthy, beautiful baby boy. When Sarah and I share our story with others, we discuss the hell we felt like we were going through, but keep it light-hearted, because of the end result. Sure, things didn’t go as planned. Yes, it all ended with a cesarean birth. But, it all ended with a birth. I’m well aware of all the elements in play that led to the birth. Tyler never “dropped” to start labor. He was, for a very short period, in distress. We induced. Tyler never got into a birthing position. We practiced our relaxation techniques. They upped the meds to keep labor going. Sarah’s body began giving up. Tyler was in distress for another short period. Sarah went in for a c-section. It’s a boy. The end.

Right?

While at the appointment with Sarah, we eventually began talking about Tyler’s birth. It turns out that things were a little more serious than all that. We know that we exhausted all other options before agreeing to the c-section. There was a period during the labor that I physically pushed, at the advice of our midwife, on Sarah’s belly from the side, to help get Tyler in a better birthing position. So, we left with a clear conscience that we made the right (and quite emotional) decision in abandoning our hopes for a natural birth.

Dr. Michelle told us that, if things would have progressed any differently, and we had a natural birth, things likely would have been dire. She told us that she would have had mere milliseconds… because the cord was wrapped around his neck three times. That “dot dot dot” above, between “milliseconds” and “because”, that was the pause that contained a million unspoken words, thoughts, and emotions.

I felt the lump expand in my throat in that short pause. Although we felt that everything was going wrong and against us, we had no idea how lucky we were, and are. We knew the cord was wrapped three times because the surgeon said so as he pulled Tyler out of Sarah’s midsection. We just never really gave it much thought, especially considering what was taking place. We were four seconds away from meeting our son!

“That’s why I fully believe he is destined for great things. There’s something very special about him,” she said.

It’s impossible for me to express the emotions that swirled. I squeezed Tyler in my arms, thinking how differently things could have ended up. I’ve got a little tyrant of a son, who eats sand, smears food on his face, and deliberately farts when we take his diaper off (yes, he really does).

And I would be an empty shell of a man if I didn’t have him. Fatherhood is the single, greatest achievement I never knew I wanted.

Blog: Problems? Fixed? Me hopes!

Picture

If you have had issues viewing this site or commenting on this site, I’m terribly sorry (and pretty peeved right now) about it. I think I’ve got it all worked out now. I THINK I do. The problem, though, is that I’m not entirely sure if this was something at my end, or with my host (GoDaddy.com). I recently updated my core files, but the problem persisted even after I checked EVERYTHING. I emailed GoDaddy, and the problem went away, even though I never received a response from them (shame on you, if you read this, GoDaddy).

If you have any issues viewing or commenting, please let me know at joe@irrationaldad.com, and I’ll work my butt off to fix the problem. Thanks for letting me know, Tracy! And also, if you self host your site, let me know which host you use and how happy you are with them.

A Conversation About Vegetables

Picture of Tyler eating

The scene: Tyler, who has been, of late, very much in daddy-mode, is in my arms. He is melting my heart with a plethora of hugs and will not allow me to set him down. As such, I’m simply walking around the house, holding my son and quite eagerly accepting these hugs. I walk into the kitchen, where Sarah is working. She is making a new dish with noodles and sausage and lots more deliciousness. Presently, she is cutting a large, white onion.

Tyler: Uhnyin!

Sarah: Yes, Tyler, mommy is cutting an onion for dinner.

Tyler: TyTy have it.

At this point, Sarah rolls her eyes. I don’t see this happen, but after living with the queen of sarcasm and cynicism for nearly seven years, I can sense these things. Sometimes, I swear I can hear her eyes rolling at some lame joke of mine. The reason for the the eye rolling is two-fold. First, Tyler wants to “have” everything. He has only recently stopped asking to have mommy’s and daddy’s morning coffee. The second, and more significant reason is that I love… love… LOVE raw onions. I could eat handful upon handful of chopped raw onion. I have, actually. It has gotten to the point that I am warned at family dinners that “the onions are for EVERYONE, not just you.” Sarah, and probably everyone else that is commonly withing two feet of me, hates it. It turns out that no amount of telling those same folks the positive effects that consuming onions has on one’s heart and health can erase the negative effects they have on one’s breath.

So, the eyes hath been rolled.

Sarah handed Tyler and myself a sizable piece of onion, which we both promptly set to consuming.

Tyler: Spicy.

Me: Yeah… I guess you could call an onion spicy.

Tyler: More uhnyin peez (please).

Sarah, to me: I blame you for this.

Me: What?! Why?

Sarah: Don’t even.